Machinery Chatter
Russ Quinn DTN Staff Reporter

Tuesday 08/14/12

Harvesting Drought-Damaged Corn

Today's high capacity combines operate best when they are operating at their maximum capacity. With this year's crop severely damaged from the drought, farmers will need to take the time to adjust their machines to make sure harvesting losses are kept at minimum all while maintaining crop quality.

Farmers harvesting drought-damaged corn will have to adjust their high-capacity combines this year to catch smaller ears and kernels. Simple adjustments could mean the difference between seeing more grain in the bin and kernels lost out the back of their machines. (DTN photo by Nick Scalise)

John Keller, product performance manager for AGCO's Gleaner combines, said in press release there are three key points combine operators should remember this fall when attempting to harvest drought-stricken corn.

First, Keller recommends farmers allow for adequate material flow. He suggests farmers lower the head and take in more crop material than they normally do. The stalks and leaves will provide cushioning and prevent kernel damage.

Other ways to increase material volume to high-capacity combines is to use a larger corn head to feed in more rows of crop or to increase the machine's ground speed. If grain damage is seen or combine plugging occurs, this is caused by an uneven flow of crop material caused by an improper adjustment. Farmers need to consult their operator's manual or contact their local dealer for advice.

Secondly, Keller said farmers should be careful when threshing to prevent grain from going out the backend of the combine. Fan speed should be slowed and sieve openings should be made smaller to account for smaller kernels.

And thirdly, keep the stripper plates close and narrow the snapping roll opening on your corn head to accommodate small ears and stalks.

Keller also wants farmers to be prepared for dry field conditions.

"Hot, dry, dirty field conditions are hard on machines, so take the extra time to keep filters clean and screens clean and free of debris," Keller said. "Fires can also be more prevalent in these conditions, so before beginning harvest, take the extra time to have fire extinguishers serviced and place one in every harvest vehicle."

John Deere also recently released a fact sheet with some tips and recommendations for maximizing performance of John Deere STS and S-Series combines. As with Gleaner, Deere wants the corn head's deck plates to be as close as possible to make sure ears are not shelled at the head or broken off.

Operators also need to adjust gathering chain lugs so they are straight across from each other to aggressively move trash through the head. They also suggest running the back shaft speed as slow as possible to minimize breaking off of stalks and increasing your trash intake.

Deere's specialists want farmers to inspect the combine for worn concaves and threshing elements and replace as needed.

Farmers using these combines should also inspect the Feed Accelerator and Stone Trap (FAST) and discharge beater wings for wear and replace if they are showing significant signs of wear.

Deere wants their combine operators to start at slower rotor speed, increase rotor speed to increase threshing and separation ability until grain damage is unacceptable and then slow speed back down in small increments until damage is acceptable.

To help increase separator capacity, make sure separator grate spacers are installed between the grates and the rail. This will help move threshed cobs through the separator to eliminate them from the grain tank sample. Too much cob in the tank can be cured by reducing the small pieces of cob that get in the cleaning shoe from the start.

The last suggestion Deere's specialists want combine operators to do in drought-damaged corn is select a ground speed so the separators can be as full and consistent as possible, just as Gleaner. Combine operators may need to make adjustments as they change varieties and fields.

Both Gleaner and John Deere suggest if you need more information to consult with your local AGCO or John Deere dealer.

Posted at 3:56PM CDT 08/14/12 by Russ Quinn
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